POTUS between two ferns

I can’t add much to the debate swirling around the decision of the White House to have the President sit down with Zach Galifianakis.  Mostly because I’m a big fan of the latter’s type of humor.It’s worth noting that commentators of a certain age bracket find much in the appearance to cause them to reach for the Tums.  Kathleen Parker, wonders “How can we hope to be taken seriously when the world sees our president in such silly circumstances?”

Answer: overwhelming economic and military power.  My speciality is not foreign policy so I’m just spit balling here, but I doubt very much America’s enemies watch Between Two Ferns.  That’s a pity because many of them could use some humor in their angry lives.

I may also be out on a limb here but I’m guessing geopolitical actors worth their salt (or oil) don’t make strategic decisions based upon an American president’s interactions with a comedian that lasts a few short minutes.

At the end of the day, the presidency remains powerful, the current incumbent (like most, I’d add) didn’t neglect his daily national security briefing in order to yuk it up for a few minutes, and the world remains rather unchanged.  Worth noting that the goal was to drive young people to sign up for health care and if that happens as a result, there was in fact a policy implication to the appearance.

Presidents should find some brief moments to be silly.  They are not Kings.  We don’t avert our eyes and whisper in their presence.

If Kathleen Parker wonders whether or not the world took seriously former Presidents who also acted silly (some inadvertently), she might ask Calvin Coolidge or FDR or Reagan.

About Peter Ubertaccio

Peter Ubertaccio is the Director of Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society at Stonehill College in Easton and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science & International Studies. His work focuses on political parties, marketing and institutions. He received his Ph.D. in Politics from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Professor Ubertaccio and his family live on Cape Cod where he is on the Board of Directors of the OpenCape Corporation and the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation.
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4 Responses to POTUS between two ferns

  1. Maurice T. Cunningham says:

    As the super-serious Richard M. Nixon would say, “Sock it to me!”

  2. Doug Pizzi says:

    Roundly panned by the right wing – you can see their plan at EmergencyRoom.gov – as “unpresidential,” I thought it was a great vehicle to reach the demographic that Obamacare needs to bring in to the fold. And it was funny.

  3. Nancy Frank says:

    Who thinks Obama staffers knew the outrage machine would respond to the comedy bit with a huge clatter gaining President Obama more unpaid media, and furthering his goal–more Obamacare signups? I do, I do!

  4. Randy Hunt says:

    Having spent several years hosting a cable access TV show with plastic ferns and rubber plants framing the scene, I immediately appreciated the huge amount of headroom in the two-shot, the 8-bit Chyron, the jolting edits, and sound dropouts during the reaction shots. It was a perfect parody of the cable access genre, including the unprepared and overmatched host.

    What shocked me about the coverage was that many commentators were apparently under the impression that this is a real Internet show. I know there are other episodes of “Between Two Ferns,” but they’re all scripted skits using the cable access metaphor to make Zach appear to be a fool, though a sly one.

    How can any reasonable person think it’s anything but a spoof piece? A spoof piece that drew millions to healthcare.gov. Mission accomplished.

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